An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
LET ME TELL YOU a story. Fifteen years ago, a committee of City council was formed to identify possible sites for a new City Hall. It was well known that the existing City Hall was becoming inadequate.
The idea was to purchase a property — several possibilities were available at the time — and lease it out commercially, meanwhile establishing a capital reserve budget that would grow for 15 years, making money from interest instead of paying interest on borrowing.
Construction could then begin without having to ask taxpayers for millions of dollars in a referendum.
Aside from the obvious savings, why that approach? Because taxpayers tend to regard new government buildings as being something politicians do for themselves.
Which is incorrect — a City Hall is the place where the City’s business is done, where democracy is carried out, and it should be a place that is efficient, effective and something we can take pride in.
Getting the land and taking it slow would have removed sticker shock as well as the borrowing costs.
So what happened? 2005, a new mayor and a new council — and the committee and the plan were quietly dropped.
Which brings us to today. A consultant’s study says, and I quote, “the City Hall building is approaching the end of its functional life.”
The report says it’s in “poor condition” and should be replaced.
So, where will the land and the money come from to build a new City Hall? Who knows?
If that plan of 15 years ago had been carried through, we’d be getting ready today to put shovels in the ground and looking forward to a smooth, painless transition out of a building whose time is up.
Instead of wondering what to do next.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.